Augmentative and Alternative Communication

The goal of a speech-language pathologist is to help their clients communicate to the best of their ability. However, in some cases, communication solely in the traditional sense of speaking is no longer an option. In these situations, a speech therapist may suggest the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

AAC includes any method of communication besides speech. We all use forms of AAC on a regular basis: gestures, facial expressions, etc. But for those who have lost the ability to communicate fully due to a disorder or disability, AAC may be their only method of communication.

The types of AAC available are as diverse as the people that use them. With the constant advancement of technology, there are many high-tech AAC devices available. These often utilize computers to allow the user to communicate their ideas and thoughts via pictures, words, or computerized speech. However, there are many low-tech or “no-tech” forms of AAC as well, including picture and letter boards, and gestural language, such as American Sign Language.

In order to determine if a person may benefit from the use of AAC, a team-evaluation approach is used. These teams often include physicians, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and other professionals along with the potential AAC user and his or her family. Together, they will decide if AAC is the right course of action and, if so, which type of AAC is right for the individual.

Check in with us next week, when we’ll discuss some of the common types of AAC available and how a speech-language pathologist can help a person adapt. In the meantime, if you or someone you love may benefit from the use of AAC or the services of a speech-language pathologist, visit our website, www.speechassociatesofny.com or give us a call at 917-841-2965 and let us help you find a speech-language pathologist who is right for you.

Do you or someone you love use augmentative and alternative communication? Join the conversation by sharing your story below in the comments section.

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One Response to Augmentative and Alternative Communication

  1. At Aintree The Voice our mission statement is as follows: Mechanically ventilated patients are unable to express their feelings and needs through verbal communication because of temporary airways which when inserted to enable respiratory support make speech impossible. As a result the caregiver is forced to interpret the non verbal communications of the patient such as mouthing, gesticulating and writing which can be difficult for the critically ill patient. In addition to this it is now generally recognised that critical care related delirium is almost a normal consequence of prolonged stay and that basic preventative measures can reduce its effects. Preventative measures include avoiding dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, hypoxia, avoiding sleep deprivation and increasing cognitive stimulation. The apple iPad has not only become a dream gadget for tech enthusiasts, but has already also proven its usefulness for numerous patients with varying types and degrees of disabilities. We firmly believe that there is a place for this technology within critical care and with this in mind we will strive to give our clients access to the benefits of such technology.

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